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One Steamed Bun at a Time

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I remember the day like it was yesterday. My family and I had just gotten back from a month long trip to China, and encountering my mom's friend after what seemed like forever, she looked me up and down and said "You look like you had a little bit too much to eat there."

Oh whoops. And oh well. I walked on the Great Wall, visited the Summer Palace and saw bats flying in a bell tower. Pretty sure that if I didn't gain a couple of pounds along the way, I would have been missing out. And of course I still remember the first night in China. My family and I are immersed in the Chinese culture; Chinese language schools on Saturdays were always fun for me...not. But being there was so different and so strange. Getting on the elevator in the airport was a harrowing experience, people pushing and shoving you everywhere. I immediately missed the people who smiled at you upon eye contact back home instead of the occasional grunt and the typical up and down glance over.

That night, we dared step out of our hotel to grab a bite to eat. Grumpy, tired and not the least bit hungry, I frowned upon every food in sight. This place was just so different, I couldn't stand it. I was counting down the days till the flight back home in my head as we walked around the night market. Loud shouts from customers and vendors alike, sizzling noises of fried somethings and the hot, humid and polluted air was unlike anything I had ever encountered back at home. My dad, noticing my grumpy attitude, bought a steamed bun filled with pork for me to eat. With a reluctant bite, warm dough filled my mouth, mixed in with delicious and savory pork.

And suddenly, things got better.

In fact, everyday, tasting one little bite of this and one little bite of that made me immersed in the culture. Maybe China wasn't so bad. Okay, the pollution was pretty crazy, and yes, the traffic was dangerous, but suddenly, I didn't feel like an outsider anymore. I felt like someone who had been there for a long time, and that was okay with me.

So when I came back from China and saw the beautiful blue sky for the first time in a month, when cars actually stopped for me when I walked across the street, I felt happy. But a huge part of me missed the Chinese culture that I always grew up with but never really knew. So what could I do? I made my own steamed buns. And so every time I take a delicious bite, I'm transported back to China. And it reminds me to keep an open mind for things that I don't know but may begin to love.
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